Giddy Up! Meet the first group of regional peeps on our Full Bush float!

By Sam Eacott

This year for Mardi Gras, Heaps Gay is going Full Bush to celebrate diversity and queerness in regional areas. We did a call out for people from regional parts of the country who’d never been to Mardi Gras before to join us on our parade float, and we were blessed to bring together an amazing group of peeps who are all keen to jump up on our float, have a boogie, and share their stories.

Get to know a few of our country cutie pies:

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Jackie Daniels (Ben LeMessurier) / 29 Years Old / Uralla (NSW)

What does Mardi Gras mean to you?

Mardi Gras is a time to celebrate and spread our message of inclusiveness and diversity as a community. Being able to spread this message of love and acceptance in the most fabulous way possible is so very important to me.

What’s it like to be queer in a regional area?

Being a queer country boy hasn’t always been easy. It used to feel like there’s nowhere that I really “fit”. Like a sense of belonging was missing. But support from my wider LGBTQI+ community has taught me that living authentically is the only way to be and that should be celebrated every day. Be country, be fabulous, be you!

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Rebecca Imlach / 19 Years Old / Launceston (TAS)

What does Mardi Gras mean to you?

Mardi Gras is a space in which our people can hold each other up and celebrate one another. A time and place dedicated to reveling in the joy that is the queer experience. Queerness made hyper-visible is such a revolutionary idea to me and many others, having been socialised to believe that it belongs behind closed doors and closets. To partake in Mardi Gras is to claim our space in the world, to proclaim our beauty, whether that looks the way heteronormative ideals would have it or not.

Queer lineage runs through events like Mardi Gras as we walk the same path as those subjected to police violence and arrests for doing the same. Queer history is so incredibly beautiful and being in the parade this year makes me feel connected to all the queer people in Australia whether they are walking beside me or secretly watching at home like I did for so many years.

What’s like to be queer in a regional area?

For as long as there has been queer people we have banded together for safety, kinship and family. Queer chosen family is such an essential part of the queer experience and living in a regional area can mean that finding those people is hard or impossible. I never feel more held than when I’m around other queer people and being from regional Australia can mean that exclusively queer spaces are few and far between. It can feel as if living as yourself, is on the other side of high school, or escaping your hometown.

In regional Australia people often homogenize in their opinions and diversity of experience isn’t as large as in major cities. When you see or meet other queer people it gives you a buzz of excitement and a flicker of recognition in having your experience mirrored in another person. That’s how I imagine Mardi Gras, that experience multiplied by thousands. A buzz that becomes a song, a flicker that becomes a glow. A night when we march in celebration, in protest, and in love.

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Hannah Maher / 28 Years Old / Trundle (NSW)

What Does Mardi Gras Means to you?

I’ve never even been to Mardi Gras, let alone joined the parade, so I’m incredibly excited to take part! Mardi Gras will be a day of jubilation for me, where I can be among accepting and like-minded people and feel like I actually fit in.

It’s also going to be a day of contemplation, of honouring our LGBTQIA elders who walked the road before us. We enjoy a remarkable level of safety and liberty in Australia, and it is all because of the people who fought, and struggled, and suffered for their rights before us.

What’s it like to be queer in a regional area?

I came out as transgender last year to a town of just under 400 people. As scary as that might sound, the process was incredibly positive! Not everyone understands what it means to be trans, but most of the people here are accepting and supportive nonetheless. The country really isn’t the scary, backwards, ultra-conservative place that people make it out to be, and I can’t wait to go “Full Bush” at Mardi Gras and show everybody that!

There are certainly struggles when you’re trans in the bush. It took me 28 years to realise who I truly am as a result of my remote, 1990s, Catholic school upbringing. More education on gender identity is desperately needed out here, so the next generation of trans and gender-diverse country kids don’t have to wait three decades to learn who they are and that they are valid.

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Joe Lennox/Amber Rosé / 28 Years Old / Armidale (NSW)

What does Mardi Gras mean to you?

Mardi Gras is such an amazing time of year – being free and authentically you whilst everyone around you feels the same thing is such an incredible and important feeling to me.

What’s it like being queer in a regional area?

Being a country boy has definitely shaped me into the man I am today – though it wasn’t always easy, luckily I had a vast array of queer mates and we were all in it together. Coming to the big smoke was a huge eye opener and because of the queer community here, it has helped me authentically be me!

 

 

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